Canada May 2011
A trip from Winnipeg, through Saskatchewan & Manitoba, to reach the northern most place we visited, Cranberry Portage, Manitoba. It was well worth the effort, although we initially almost cancelled this part of our trip due to railway related issues and things not quite being as we wanted them. I’m glad we didn’t.
Having stayed in Winnepeg overnight at the Humphrey Inn & Suites, we took VIA Rail‘s twice-weekly Winnipeg – Churchill train to The Pas and checked into the Kikiwak Inn, at 0330 in the morning!
Our following morning’s journey, after not a great deal of sleep, took us on the Keewatin Railway Company twice-weekly The Pas – Pukatawagan train, previously run by VIA Rail but now a First Nation run operation. This was definitely an experience, a train with more freight wagons than passenger coaches. We didn’t travel all the way to Pukatawagan though, mainly because there is no accommodation on the reservation, but stayed at the Caribou Lodge in Cranberry Portage, a large-ish village en-route.
Cranberry Portage is used by many a guest for fishing on the many lakes and hunting bears. The Caribou Lodge catered to all these needs, although ours was only to find somewhere to sleep. The owners were very helpful and even collected us from the railway station, for a small fee. Set right on the edge of the First Cranberry Lake, surrounded by some fantastic scenery, our accommodation comprised of a twin cabin with en-suite. Meals were provided for us, at additional cost, and we were allowed to stay over in the lodge the following morning to pass away some time before the train back to The Pas. The strangest thing we came across during our stay there were Tetley Teabags! It was so good to get a proper cuppa out in the middle of nowehere. The English reading this will understand……
We rode the Keewatin Railway Company train back to The Pas the following afternoon, which was strangely empty of people when it departed. The crew told us this was because it was quicker for people to get off and use road transport from Cranberry Portage to The Pas. People would drive up and taxi folk back for the same fare as the train, the big difference being the 60 minute road journey compared to the 4 hour train ride…….
Our exit from The Pas was by Bearskin Airlines from The Pas airport, after another night at the Kikiwak Inn the following morning, to Winnipeg, via Flin Flon, and then ultimately on to Vancouver and into Alaska from there. The Kikiwak Inn offer free transfer to/from the airport, which is very good as it’s a good 20 miles away!